Turkish journalist Pelin Ünker, who is facing 13 months in prison for reporting on offshore companies in Malta linked to Turkey’s former Prime Minister, drew similarities on freedom of expression restrictions in Malta and her home country, which Reporters Without Borders describes as “the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists”.
She referred to the persistent clearing of the flowers and candles at the protest memorial at the Great Siege Square in Valletta. “I was here this morning to lay flowers at this memorial, that is cleared by your government every single time it is set up. This is something [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan would do. It should not happen here. You must not let it happen here,” she said.
She stressed that when a journalist revealed wrongdoing there must be consequence for those exposed: “When there is impunity, when institutions are captured to protect the powerful and corrupt instead of the public, this is when journalists are at their weakest. This is what is happening in Turkey, and it is what is happening in Malta”.
Ünker ended on a positive note: “I see hope here today… I see hope in the work that is being done so that Daphne is never forgotten… You made me feel part of something bigger. You made me feel that together we can overcome the challenges we face”.
Ünker addressed the vigil organised by Repubblika, Occupy Justice and Manuel Delia, after participating in a debate on press freedom organised on Saturday morning by PN MEP David Casa hosting Maltese journalists and civil society activists.